South Beach

South Beach

After Eve ate the apple, God created South Beach. He, Himself, was a bit stoned at the time.

He cut the water with a causeway: on one side He placed ships of garbage and cargo and gulls hovering in halos; on the other He set down mansions with yachts bobbing in ocean parking lots. He invented the rich and famous to fill the mansions and yachts––this was before Christ was born, in the bathroom of an after-hours club, with long hair he wore in solidarity for the meek.


“Night club city hall hotel houses!” God boomed. He crafted condos in the clouds and signs that burned onto the eyelids of the night sky––vacancy, heated pool, hourly rates––turning night into eternal day. The moon was made of neon lighting and advertised drink specials.

“Mango terra-cotta two-tone!” God bellowed. He built buzzing beachfront boutiques, vending machines to dispense designer drugs, glaring gift shops brimming with kitsch: ceramic alligators, plastic flamingos, cigars, suntan lotion and rum. He poured people into the streets.

In the shadows of it all, He raised rundown walk-up tenements and implemented reverse rush hour for pornstar parents. He composed bass drones like baritone angels to sing their children to sleep. He provided them customers, waving soiled currency like flags of surrender.

And it was good.

When Christ turned sixteen, and realized His name came from a curse word spraypainted on a wall of the abandoned lifeguard tower in which He was conceived, He ran away from home.

God said, “Leave then! Utopian socialist! Bleeding heart hippy liberal leftnik! You’re destined to die!”

God was feeling bellicose, so He invented evangelicals, fully equipped with mistresses from the South Pacific. He hired them to freeze Jesus in jewel-encrusted removable platinum pieces, to be sold on the Home Shopping Network to the mothers of aspiring rappers. But despite Christ’s dismemberment and global distribution, God knew one day the boy would return.

Dear Father, the letter read, You designed me to love unconditionally, knowing I’d grow up to resent you. You designed me to be everywhere, even after I left that hard-on you call home, so that I’d still be there in Spirit. But it doesn’t matter, because you’re incapable of love, you just make shit without a thought or a care. Even if you could love, you can’t hug a ghost. You’re sick, dad. I pity you. But you already know that. The letter was signed, Your Begrudgingly Loving Son.

God underwent a spiritual crisis. He took a second look at the Bible and diagnosed Himself bipolar. A self-prescribed binge of barbiturates brought Him to meet Barbarous in a rundown bar on the edge of the beach, where he plunged a broken beer bottle into the brute’s back.

He left town for a while on a casino cruise until things cooled down.

For a while, God gave up on creation. He tried yoga and tai chi, yogurt and fruit, all fruitless. God was too restless. But eventually, God grew tired of sand and sun, of coke and orgies, and became indifferent, middle-aged, and alone.

He spent most hours in the den of a penthouse suite, making ghosts out of room service napkins, waiting for the boy. And then the headlines began to appear in all the papers that He read each morning before His swim:

Jesus Killed in the Mountains of Bolivia

Corpse of Christ Found in Congo

Holy Spirit Stabbed in Serbia

Holy Ghost Gutted in Gaza

Son of Man Suffers Sins of the World

God had to admit, the boy had balls. To die like that, again and again. To block the bowels of Hell instead of getting high in Heaven.

Knifed in Nicaragua

Burned Alive in Burma

And so on. The headlines continued, as God knew they would, for eternity.

With a semblance of parental pride, God installed a dimmer on the sky, turned down the neon, and pure daylight returned to the beach. He evicted the squatters from all the lifeguard towers, then razed the rickety structures. He reduced speakeasies and strip clubs to rubble, essentially erasing all history of His son’s conception, and the unruly teenage years that followed. He used the scrap to make an artificial reef.

He hoped these gestures would register on His son’s radar. That maybe the boy would pay the old man a visit.

He made preparations. He made adjustments. He made amends. And when Christ never showed, He made peace.

He made sure His final draft was suitable for humanity to inherit in His absence. And with that, God clapped the dust off his hands, unintentionally inventing stars, and left for limbo.

Business went on without Him, despite a few hitches—shark bites, red tide, an investigative reporter who smuggled a blacklight into all the hotels.

Every now and then a tourist claimed the beach was haunted by a homeless man with sand lice dancing through the tangles of a bushy brown beard, shouting gibberish from atop the dunes.

This story appears in Annalemma Issue Eight: Creation. Click here to order.

Read more about Ryan here.

Read more about Shannon here.


  1. Hunter says:

    Nicely done, Ryan! I like this one a lot. Looking forward to Issue Eight.

  2. Jared says:

    Excellent piece!

  3. Oh, yes! What an astounding theme – and so well-written. Loved it.

  4. Ryan says:

    Thank you Hunter, Jared and Sheila. Glad you all enjoyed it.

  5. Jenny M. says:

    Great first line! Those are always hard to do.

  6. (hyper)real says:

    The story is outragiously good. I have never been to South Beach but reading this makes me feel like I’ve saw it and the people live.

  7. L. Edward says:

    Yes, absolutely marvellous. Enjoyed it immensely! I’ll never be able to look at a plastic glow in the dark Jesus statue again, without thinking about this piece.

  8. Kyle W. says:

    I like this tremendously. As I would a six story glazed donut next to a sea of coffee.

  9. Kelly says:

    This was great! I loved it – God deff must have been stoned when he created South Beach… 😉

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